Before bed, I read folk tales about ghost cats
that rolled in fire, spoke though headless,
and ran newcomers from old houses.
But my dreams were welcome ones,
of the school playground where we
scratched specks of garnet out of the dirt.
That’s the last place I saw my friend, until today,
visiting home, taking a back route behind
the shopping plaza. On break in an apron,
there was a woman who had to be her—
that was a face I grew up with—turning out
cans of food by the dumpster. Cats
coursed from the abandoned orchard, arcing
their backs toward her hand, with a cigarette
burning in it.
Rose McLarney is a North Carolina native who was awarded The Fellowship of Southern Writers’ biennial George Garrett New Writing Award for Poetry in 2013. She received Alligator Juniper’s National Poetry Prize in 2012 and the Joan Beebe Fellowship in 2010. Her collection is The Always Broken Plates of Mountains (Four Way Books, 2012). Rose’s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Orion, Slate, New England Review, Greensboro Review, Missouri Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and dozens of other journals. She earned the MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and teaches poetry at Oklahoma State University. The poem “Home Fires” will be published in Its Day Being Gone, forthcoming from Penguin Books in 2014 and winner of the 2013 National Poetry Series competition.